Chatting about Gays at Gleason'sBy David Lawrence
My old friend visits me at Gleason's Gym. I've known Kenny for forty-seven years -- longer than I've known my wife. Back in the sixties we used to go to clubs together and hang out with the Warhol crowd at Max's Kansas City. We've stayed friends as he became a Hollywood screenwriter and I became a big businessman, later a jailbird and a boxing coach. He's now an academic. He is liberal, and I am conservative. We don't care; Obama hasn't infected us with his extreme divisiveness. Well, a little, but not much.
Ken says, "You're not really right-wing, are you? You believe in gay marriage, right?"
"No," I say. "We don't have to redefine marriage just to please the gays."
"They have rights."
"Look, the whole gay thing makes me uncomfortable. My whole life, my sex drive has been a hunger, a pre-eminent interest. Do you think that I should just accept an aberration casually, like trying on different moral parameters or coats? Do you think that your willingness to abandon your principles makes you morally superior to me, or just plain weak? You think that conservatives should lighten up on social issues, but sexual orientation is more important than hunger or war. When we were young, we spent twenty-three and half hours a day thinking about sex."
"You're prejudiced. Are you against black rights?"
"Prejudice is the ability to make clear distinctions. It is an asset, not a liability. And as for blacks, I've been closer to blacks than you. I've boxed with blacks for years and been in rap groups with them. I've been in jail, which they say is a black place...even though it isn't. Who are you to speak up for blacks? You sound like pasty-faced Joe Biden or white Quentin Tarantino trying to hitch a ride on the black experience. At least allow them their suffering. Don't try and steal it from them."
"Gays suffer like blacks."
"Blacks were slaves. Gays haven't been put in chains. They may have been disliked because of their behavior, but they were not jailed and whipped. Except for Oscar Wilde, who did a measly two years like me. Also, blacks were segregated when they deserved their rights. If I were black, I would hate the comparison of gays with the black race. Blacks are hated for different skin color. It's irrelevant. Gays are perverts."
"How can you say that? You sound like an idiot."
"In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 'perversion' is defined as an aberrant sexual practice or interest especially when habitual. Two men having anal sex is certainly perversion. You can't redefine language to fit your predilections. If you lose your language, how are you going to denigrate me and all conservative views that differ from yours? You need language to disparage me."
"What about men loving each other?" Kenny asks. "Shouldn't they get married?"
"Men haven't been married to each other ever in history. You can't change tradition because you have developed some untested ideas which have spread amongst your light-thinking buddies -- no offense -- like the flu."
Kenny sneezes. I hope he doesn't have the flu. I smile to myself -- Oh, well; if it's a liberal's flu, it's probably weak. The silly things I think when I am trapped in a naïve argument with an ideologue speaking through a liberal mouthpiece.
"Also," I say, "marriage was developed for men to protect women in a family unit." Marriage was not created for love. Why do you think there were prearranged marriages? Let men love each other -- but not marry each other or display their awkward sexual proclivities in public. We do not want to institutionalize aberrant behavior."
"But gay marriage is the wave of the future," Ken says.
"You sound like under-educated Sean Penn, the Chávez-loving high school graduate. Did he ever take a college course? The wave of the future depends on what we respect in the past. Public displays of gay affection are sickening, no matter what liberals try to sell you. I've seen gays kissing on the corner and liberal heterosexual friends of mine trying to pretend they're not offended. Why? It's time gays got out of our faces. We have other things to do rather than to ratify perversion."
"I like gays," Ken says.
"Fine. Like them. I like most of them, too. They're mostly nice. But don't change our institutions to meet their desires. I am sick of their rushing out of the closet and putting us on the hangers of their philosophies. Why do we have to love them? Why can't we just accept them as people and quit having to embrace their aberrances?"
"You didn't seem to have a problem in our college days when we hung out at Max's."
"That's because I felt bad for them back them. Now they've become bullies. If we don't give them our wholesale approval, they pretend we are prejudiced. But prejudice is not discernment. Distinction is the right to be horrified by perversion. In fact, we have the necessity to reject what we reject if we are true to our own sexual proclivities. Why are gays always looking for acceptance? I don't care if they are sickened by heterosexual love. Why should they be so interested in our opinions of them?"
"I give up," Ken says.
"Thank God. I'm bored with the subject. They wanted to come out of the closet, and they brought the moths with them. They have succeeded in turning some of us against them while the other dolts follow them to feel good about themselves. Let's go out and watch some boxing. There's something honest about hitting each other."
We go out and watch two beginners sparring. It's ugly. They keep ducking their heads and getting hit.
I miss the beauty of the world. I miss when things were done well. I miss when every value wasn't undercut by ideological intent. I miss when people told themselves the truth and knew what was good and what wasn't. I am sick of the progressive world. I want to celebrate a regressive world without listening to fools cherish every possible change or re-evaluation.
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